BSP-20 Neymar is star attraction as fans swarm to Brazil training

410

ZCZC

BSP-20

FBL-WC-2018-BRA

Neymar is star attraction as fans swarm to Brazil training

SOCHI, Russia, June 12, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Brazil attracted an army of
excited youngsters — including one who managed to get onto the pitch for a
selfie — as they held their first training session on Russian soil ahead of
the World Cup on Tuesday.

Around 5,000 locals turned out to watch the relaxed session at the Yug-
Sport Stadium, next to the Brazilian squad’s hotel in the Black Sea resort
city of Sochi.

Tuesday is a national holiday in Russia and many fans opted for vantage
points along the road leading to the stadium, while others filled the stand
in blazing sunshine.

One young boy broke through security barriers and managed to get close to
a group of Brazil players including Neymar, taking a photograph before being
led away.

However, most fans contented themselves with chanting the name of the
world’s most expensive player, who arrived with his teammates in Russia in
the early hours of Monday fresh from scoring in a 3-0 friendly win over
Austria in Vienna.

The 222-million-euro ($261 million) Paris Saint-Germain forward made his
first start in that game since undergoing surgery on a foot fracture at the
start of March. He had come off the bench to score in the win over Croatia in
Liverpool a week earlier.

“Neymar is doing great, thanks to God. I think the way the whole process
has been dealt with was perfect. He has fully recovered,” goalkeeper Alisson
told reporters.

“It’s logical that, at first, when he started kicking the ball again, he
felt the need to take extra care of himself.

“He has had to deal with the fear, which is normal after a serious injury,
but step by step he has built up his confidence.”

Members of the Selecao had a treat in store for Philippe Coutinho at
training, marking the Barcelona midfielder’s 26th birthday by pinning him to
the ground, breaking an egg over his head and covering him in flour.

Those who started the final pre-World Cup warm-up against Austria spent
most of Tuesday’s session apart from the rest of Tite’s squad, while
Manchester United-bound midfielder Fred was not involved as he continues to
nurse an ankle injury.

Eager to put their humiliation on home soil in 2014 firmly behind them,
the Brazilians appear confident and at ease in surroundings which in this
lush part of Russia are not completely unlike home.

“Our first impressions are positive, with the beauty of the city and the
beach, and to be able to have lunch with views looking out over the sea,”
added Alisson.

Brazil play their opening game at the tournament on Sunday, when they take
on Switzerland in Rostov-on-Don. They will also come up against Costa Rica
and Serbia in Group E.

BSS/AFP/RY/1845 hrs